Sunday, October 31, 2010

Trick or Treat?

It’s national eat candy and sweets day. The day we buy treats and hand them out to the neighborhood children. The trick is that now we can start buying all of our favorite candy in black & orange packages beginning in September. I don’t normally buy candy bars, but I couldn’t resist those little tiny chocolate bars in my favorite flavors. There couldn’t be that many calories in a tiny bar. Tricked again!

 A gigantic bag of tiny little candy bars adds up to much more candy available than a large block of chocolate. They look so little, but the snacking quickly adds up.

There are so many good reasons to have a little chocolate, caffeine and sugar. I’ll share some of my reasons with you, and you can use them anytime you want to eat something sweet.

  • Helps me think
  • Didn’t get enough sleep
  • Makes a boring job more interesting
  • I saw a mini chocolate bar on the counter
  • I found a step stool and was able to climb up to the high cabinet where I hid the chocolate bars so I would forget them until “candy day”
  • Add your own if none of these fit for you

The final “trick” is that instead of having more energy, I felt sluggish as I started out on a nice long walk today. I knew I needed a walk, but I didn’t feel the usual spring in my step. I felt like I was wearing all those tiny little candy bars. Maybe all of those excuses didn’t work out very well.

I walked to the drug store and found the isles being stocked with that familiar candy now in green & red wrappers. I won’t be tricked again! Fall is the time of year for green and red apples that don’t even need wrappers. I’ll try to reign in the sugar monster and at least make something if I want a sweet treat. Making cookies for the church welcome boxes took a little effort but I had far fewer treats left to tempt me.

60 minutes walking

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hearty Brain

Walking and Brain Volume

Walking 6 miles or so every week is not only good for the heart, but for the brain, preventing shrinkage and possibly dementia down the road new research indicates. Walking also increases gray matter in the brain.

It's easy to walk 6 miles a week. By walking everyday, I am averaging about 6 miles a week. The recommended 30 minutes everyday or long walks on weekends and 20 minutes a day should do it. Walking is healthful, and walking outdoors brings even more vitality to the mind and body.

One of the hazards of writing is that it is a sedentary task. It's easy to develop unhealthy habits while researching and writing about health. As I focus on writing about publishing, I will plan to have several short posts (sprints) and then the occasional in depth article. Just as a longer walk can take you to new and interesting places, writing deep thoughts or feelings can take you to a higher level of thinking.

Going deeper, finding the underlying meanings, and what people really care about are my interests, but a short sprint is also healthy. Just get up, take a break from reading. Log off of Facebook, take a walk, laugh, call a friend, do something quick, active and fun. Contact Nancy to schedule a Walk About U!

30 minutes walking

Friday, October 29, 2010


Wilted curling turning brown. Fall leaves sprinkle the sidewalk in various stages of vitality. The listless leaves caught my attention. I felt uninspired today.

Walking through the leaves under a cool cloudy evening sky chatting away about the projects I've been working on, I realized I was tired of writing and had nothing to say. This week some things were working, and some were dragging on.

I've been researching the maize of information about self-publishing this week. The low cost of printing and digital technology has birthed a whole new market for publishing. As a writer, I couldn't be happier about the trend, but it took some sleuthing to learn the ins and outs of the industry. It was overwhelming at first, but then the pieces started fitting together. It took some time to understand what self-publishers are really selling under all of the jargon. There are so many choices that it takes diligent research to find the hidden costs. As a writer and entrepreneur, I definitely find it worth the effort.

50 minutes walking

108 days

Thursday, October 28, 2010

History of My Own Fictions

It is not my purpose, in this record, though in all other essentials it is my written memory, to pursue the history of my own fictions. They express themselves, and I leave them to themselves. When I refer to them, incidentally, it is only as a part of my progress.David Copperfield by Charles Dickens

David Copperfield tells his story in the book by the same name. Through the walking, dialogues, and character development, Copperfield tells his life story as he remembers it in the early 1800's. As I listen to the audio story, I feel like I am walking with little David as he grows into a man. As I was listening, I was struck by the phrase, “…the history of my own fictions.” Granted the story is a fictitious account of Copperfield’s life, but as I read it, I thought about how my memory of my life story includes reality and fiction. Some of my memories are clear and others are shrouded in mystery.

Memories are clouded by intervening events, emotions, and a deluge of sensory data. Writing fiction sometimes taps into more reality than remembering actual events. Writing fiction, poetry, and journaling taps into the reality of emotions, senses, and the subconscious. Try writing the history of your own fictions and see where it takes you.

30 minutes walking

107 days

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Few Simple Steps

Have you ever watched people as they walk? Everyone has their own stride. There are those who walk straight, fast, and get the job done with little interference from what is going on around them. Others stop to look at birds, geese, and leaves. Our stories unfold as we observe, interpret, and describe our lives. Most of us have a process we go through before going on a walk whether we are walking alone, with children, or pets. I usually collect my keys, phone, sunglasses, and iPod, put on my walking shoes, and lock up the house. I just do it. I don't necessarily think of it as my "process" for taking a walk. In the same way as I started writing articles, blogs, and stories, I didn't think about the process I was going through. In fact, my methods were quite haphazard at times. Now I realize there is a method to the madness, and I am following a few simple steps to get a book written. You can follow my process and find information and links on writing and publishing on my writing blog at:

As I look back at my walking journal, I can see my writing improve. I find it very exciting to spark my senses, find joy everyday, and write about what I see and feel. We each have a different style of walking, writing, and processing. That's what makes life so interesting!

20 minutes walking

106 days

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

My Walking Journal

This blog is my story. There is so much about my story that I can create and control myself. Characters come in and out of my story. Some characters I keep and develop into deep relationships while other characters pass through my life, and I let them go. I decide what I want to include in my story. Sure there are villains and heroes and people to save. I can choose to be the hero of my story, and what direction to begin my journey. I write things out of my story if they are no longer working for me. I have stories from my past that I file away on an upper shelf where they get dusty and I rarely visit them.

Writing my walking journal is a way of telling my story and developing the “brand” of who I am. It’s easy to read about the value of walking outdoors, being optimistic, and grateful. Walking my story makes it real. Everyday I am more optimistic, I am happier, and healthier regardless of whether my story that day is a comedy or drama. Get outdoors and start your own walking journal.

60 minutes walking 

105 days

Monday, October 25, 2010

After the Storm

The air is so fresh as I look up at the white wispy clouds. The clear blue sky shows no sign of the storm that passed through yesterday, yet the sidewalk is littered with damp golden leaves. A good heavy rain cleanses the trees of dead leaves and debris. If the wind blows hard enough, the green leaves will be pruned at the same time.

Do you ever feel like a storm has blown through your life leaving a flood of water behind your eyes or a heaviness like damp leaves on the sidewalk? Sometimes a random storm or crisis comes out of the blue and wreaks havoc with your life. A wind of chaos or evil can blow across your brow. There doesn’t seem to be any reason or any good that can come of it, but crises can bring you closer to the people you care about. Take time for meaningful relationships when the sun is shining, and you’ll be ready for the unexpected storms.

Most storms are healthy and natural. If we didn’t have the occasional mini crisis, we wouldn’t clean out the clutter in our lives. We learn what is really important to us when the rain washes out the excess. Get outdoors and walk. Enjoy the changing seasons. Take a Walk About U! and have a conversation with LifeWork Coach Nancy Miller to learn ways to build your resilience for the next storm. Can’t get outside? While sitting in your office chair or sitting in front of the television, lift your legs, stretch your feet, and do the bicycle moves. Stand up and stretch, breathe, and relax. Have a great day!

30 minutes walking
104 days 

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Singing in the Rain

There’s nothing like taking a big striped umbrella, waterproof Keene shoes, and a fabulous LL Bean raincoat and going out for a walk in the rain. When I tell people that my goal is to walk everyday for a year, they always ask me what I will do when it rains. My answer is that I will sing in the rain.

"Singing In The Rain"

I'm singing in the rain
Just singing in the rain
What a glorious feeling
I'm happy again
I'm laughing at clouds
So dark up above
The sun's in my heart
And I'm ready for love

Let the stormy clouds chase
Everyone from the place
Come on with the rain
I've a smile on my face
I'll walk down the lane
With a happy refrain
Singing, singing in the rain
In the rain.

The beauty of singing in the rain is that no one is listening. I’m out virtually by myself. I remember some of the words to “Singing in the Rain,” have some idea of the tune, and have a great time singing. I just smile at myself as I make up the parts I don’t know. I always love singing that song when it rains.

When you are in the middle of a storm in your life, you might forget that you can grab an umbrella, embrace the rain, look up at the clouds and smile. It won’t solve your problems, but you will feel better and more prepared for whatever comes your way.

25 minutes walking

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Weather Changes

The day began with rain so I didn’t walk in the morning as I often do. A cool rainy Saturday morning has a very different affect on me than a sunny Monday morning. Just as the weather affects my mood, energy, and plans for the day, anything in the environment can have an impact on our lives and activities.

Rainy days are great for writing, talking, catching up on paperwork, and contemplating. I really enjoy rainy days. You can walk in the rain or try to catch a break in the weather. So much variety. Pouring rain, fog, and hail have a very different affect. When extreme weather or circumstances hit, there are concerns for safety, security, and whether you can actually continue with normal activities. If a crisis or extreme weather occurs, it’s time to take on a minimum amount of activities, find support, and protect yourself.

Pay attention to the weather. Enjoy the light rains, get your exercise, and plan for the occasional bad weather.

50 minutes walking

Friday, October 22, 2010

Natural Beauty

This morning I was thinking about what I want to fill myself with. I love to eat chocolate, research information, and watch television (all at the same time.) These can all be stressful activities. Getting outside, walking, growing and eating vegetables, building healthy relationships, giving, sharing, and forgiving reduce stress and increase health and happiness.

As I walked outside and took a breath of fresh air I thought about the need to leave room for things that are really important to me. It's easy to get caught up in thoughts of stuff and things. What will I wear? How will I be perceived? Is my career on track and are my investments increasing in value? Wow! Time to exhale. Let it out, and let go. If these things come my way, I will have more to share, but I don't want to be stuffed with fear and worry about what I have or don't have. 

We had a pleasant fall rain today. The grass is green and the flowers are growing. The natural beauty is all around. All of the pruning, cleaning, and decorating of myself and my home cannot compare with all that grows naturally. Get out and enjoy the beauty of the outdoors.

30 minutes walking

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Ordinary Day

I was thinking it was an ordinary day. Not much to write about. Baby play and story time at the library, laugh out loud silly fun with my grandson, a little shopping with my daughter, and a walk in the park. The great thing about baby smiles is that they are contagious. The more he laughs the sillier I get. I don't even have to be funny to get a laugh out loud. As I walked through the park mothers, couples, and children smiled as they looked at the happy baby strolling by. It doesn't get much better than that.

An ordinary day is the most extraordinary day. A good laugh is healing, healthy, and reduces stress. Laughing for no apparent reason, just because you can, is the best laugh. Have an ordinary day and take a walk.

45 minutes walking

Wednesday, October 20, 2010


The conversation began with a little catching up. The usual how are you and what have you been doing. One thing led to another and we were talking about 3 years ago, and then careers, family and youth. Lunch with a trusted friend can stir up ideas, thoughts, and memories. Much of our thoughts and conversation bounces around from present, to past, and then future. We even got into a discussion about time and space and too many prepositions. Our lives become fluid and transparent as we share our stories. Where do we begin?

As I walk through the park and look at the geese that come to the park every year, I wonder if this is where they start. Is this their home? Then do they go away and come back or is this a resting place from their home? Maybe there is no beginning. Maybe they flow with the seasons.

I got stuck working on my book. I was struggling to put the puzzle together, but the pieces didn’t seem to fit. I tried to force it and got little done. Then I realized I don’t have to start at the beginning. I can let the project flow from the bigger picture to smaller, or from a single idea to something much bigger. Maybe my idea starts somewhere in the middle and flows back and forth from there. I am used to feeling the need for a linear progression. It was very freeing to realize I can start where I am right now and flow back and forth to where it takes me. You don’t have to start at the beginning. The beginning is artificially created. In your story or project, you can choose and change as you work through the process.

30 minutes walking

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

So Many Flavors!

Out to the garden I went to pick some basil to add to the zucchini, onion, and cucumber dill mix I was mixing with the tuna. I love tuna, so it is the perfect base for the diced zucchini. You know how zucchini can get lost in the garden until it gets rather large. I always think tuna when I see a giant zucchini. Um. While I was there I decided to pick some red pepper, green pepper, garlic chive, and fresh dill. What a mix of color and flavors! When I tasted the tuna mix I wondered if I had gone too far. My taste buds felt a little confused with the mix of basil, dill and peppers. Not my usual combination. It’s easy to stick to the same vegetables and flavors that I am used to. The original cucumber dill blended very well but lacked color and distinction. As I began to enjoy the tangy peppery vegetable delight, I realized that adding more color and texture enhanced the meal. 

We talk about diversity at work, school, and church. But at the same time we can be imposing our own flavor on employees, students, and friends. Diversity begins at home. Learning to enjoy a wealth of flavors in foods, colors, and people. 

On my walks through the neighborhood, I often cross paths with a friendly man in a turban and wheelchair who always asks if my family is well, a gardener blowing leaves smiles, and a woman walking her poodle says good morning. The diversity of dress, skin tone, and activity make walking interesting. You never know what to expect. Get outdoors. See which way the wind is blowing and who is living and working in your neighborhood. Savor the colors, flavors, and textures that are all around you. Send me an email and schedule a Walk About U!

20 minutes walking

Monday, October 18, 2010


Have you ever noticed how different things look when you walk backwards? Your whole perspective changes. Walking down the same street hundreds of times can dull the senses. For a change, walk forwards and then backwards and see how the scenery looks different when viewed from a different perspective. Take a hop, skip, and a jump. Yes. Walking in your neighborhood, do something different. It’s fun. Kids have no problem jumping over cracks, walking one way and then the other, or skipping down the street. They know how to have fun. They develop their creativity with little effort if we let them. Until they learn not to look silly. 
We teach them to walk the straight path, keep pace, and not stop to play.

20 minutes walking

Sunday, October 17, 2010


We enjoyed a lovely rainy day at the Cosumnes River Preserve today honoring my husband and all of the volunteers who work so hard to welcome visitors, give tours, and maintain the environment around the wetlands. We enjoyed family time and lunch under the roof of the barn. I was looking forward to cooler weather and possibly a few sprinkles. It started raining as we drove out to the preserve, and by the time we got there it was pouring. Our 6-month old grandson got his first look at the rain up close and personal (wet!) I love the rain but thought we would miss the Sand Crane fly over. After lunch we were optimistic and decided to take a walk around the wetlands and see how the weather faired.

The rain gradually dwindled, and we watched the ducks swim around the marsh surrounded by the green tules. Under a cloudy fall sky we saw Sand Hill Cranes and the snowy Great Egret. The waterfowl were enjoying the weather as much as we were. We drove to Stanton Island to watch the fly over of the Sand Hill Cranes. As I looked out in the field, I was impressed by the community of cranes, egrets, geese, and swallows each with their own language and activities. The swallows flew back and forth over the field looking for food while the large white egrets held their ground. They might slowly move a little or crane their necks looking for food, but the egrets mainly stay in the same place while the swallows fluttered around. The geese flew in formation and the cranes chattered as their group formed and transformed. The cranes seemed to be talking to one neighbor and then moving ahead to talk to another as they flew across the field. Tree Swallows filled sections of the field in dense groups.

Observing the activity in the air and field, I could imagine the birds having personalities and communities like people. Some people find security in finding a place that has the resources they need and then settling in. Others move around even within a community looking here and there for the best and most interesting loot. Some of us like to chatter and move around the group as we work and travel while others stay in a uniform formation or working process.

We had rain, clouds, and a beautiful sunset as we watch the birds fly over. Even the rabbits and squirrels were out salvaging their dinner in the wet grass. We talked about wildlife, photography, and business and we enjoyed a lovely “Walk About” at the Cosumnes River Preserve. Changes in weather and environments are great opportunities to enjoy a walk outdoors. Call Nancy if you would like to schedule a Walk About U!

30 minutes walking

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Go Fish!

Have you heard of the fish guys who turned a lousy stinking job into something fun and entertaining? You’ve probably heard of Pike Place Fish Market where people travel for miles just to be entertained by fish. The attitude of the “Fish Philosophy” is summed up by the question, “Is my attitude helping my team or my customers? Is it helping me to be the person I want to be?” I need to ask myself everyday if my attitude is helping me become who I want to be. If not, I change it.

Choosing to find joy in doing things I know I need to do is a goal of mine this year. One reason I started the “Walk About U!” was to make regular walking fun. It was something I knew I needed to do, so I made up my mind to walk everyday. Often I didn’t really want to do what I knew I needed to do. So I invited people to walk with me and brainstorm business ideas, talk about their vision and purpose, and share ways they can bring joy to their lives. It was fun! If I’m not walking with someone, I listen to an audiobook or podcast. Sometimes I just listen to what is around me. It’s a great time to find spiritual strength and relax. Having a time to de-stress is as important as eating healthy and having regular medical checkups. Being healthy and happy has a lot to do with attitude and lifestyle. Grab your shoes and cell phone and take a "Walk About U!"

20 minutes walking

Friday, October 15, 2010

Sultry Grass

It was one of those days that I could have easily skipped the walk. So much to do and never enough time. Because I enjoy much of what I do, all of it has meaning, and it fits with my greater vision and purpose, time flies by. The last few months have been a time of transition and change in my direction and thinking. It's been a time to evaluate how I can best use my time. Prioritizing my work and looking for new opportunities to promote health and happiness for myself and others is my greater purpose. This year I am choosing to do that by creating a healthy environment for myself and finding ways to express myself in my coaching and writing.

Absorbed in my own thoughts while walking through the park, I became aware of the aroma of warm sultry grass under a sprinkling of dry leaves. The autumn transition from the warm balmy days of summer to the cool crisp feel of fall. I am ready to drop the summer leaves. My time gathering, organizing, and storing this summer has left me feeling a bit overwhelmed. As I see the leaves falling, swirling, and gathering, I can feel the time is here to shed, focus, and enjoy the coming season.

30 minutes walking

Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Simple Thought

Walking stirs up my brain like waves reshaping the sands in the sea. I can almost feel the synapses firing. Like a flash, a thought or idea comes into my head while I’m walking, as if it were carried in by the wind. I don’t own it. If it were truly mine I would know where it came from and it would remain with me.

Such a simple thought, but the words come together in perfect order.  And then they are gone without a trace. If I had a pen and pad around my neck, I might capture the precious words. The devices so convenient are not at hand when they are needed.

I’ll wait for the breeze to carry it back in a new shape, form, or insight. Maybe tomorrow.

30 minutes walking

Wednesday, October 13, 2010


Dancing, twirling, flipping, hopping. The leaves toss and swirl in the early October breeze. I watch and laugh and add a little zing to my step. The clamor of activity is refreshing, calming, and energizing at the same time. This morning I needed some relaxing energy to de-stress while getting ready for a meeting after a busy weekend. A few jumping jacks did the trick. Calisthenics improve balance, coordination, and decrease stress.

  Besides all of the health benefits, calisthenics are great for teaching an active child to count. Preschool children love to count as they jump, touch their toes or even run and put their toys away. Running, jumping, hopping, and skipping are great for the brain and health .
Just watch the leaves and follow their example.

70 minutes walking


Tuesday, October 12, 2010


Groups of geese gathered on each side of the sidewalk. As I approached the little mob, I hesitated. They’re just friendly park geese I thought. But as I started walking through the group, a large white goose headed toward me. As his beady eyes stared at me I felt threatened. I remembered the geese we used to have that would go to great lengths to come after me and try to bite me. I knew my feelings were irrational, but I looked behind me as I quickly walked away.

Memories, beliefs and thoughts from the past can have a profound affect on how we view current situations. Because we had aggressive white geese in the past, I saw the goose as being aggressive. It didn’t even make sense because I’ve never seen an incident in the park, never heard a report of an aggressive goose, but I had seen white geese being aggressive in the past, so I felt aggression when it wasn’t there.

When I realized that my irrational feelings cam from a past experience, I was able to make sense of the situation and release the fear.

60 minutes walking

Monday, October 11, 2010

Are Employers Rational?

Are employers any more rational than the falling leaves? We want to prepare for job search and interviews, but we can’t expect the interviewer to make a rational logical decision. They are influenced by the weather, who they hired last, the problems they are trying to solve, and balancing the team they currently have. Their own insecurities often come into play. You could be the best candidate for a particular job, but it doesn’t mean you will get it. Just as the weather changes and the wind shifts, the mood, budget, or needs of an employer, manager, or interviewer, can change at any moment.

All of the preparation that goes into your job search is not lost if you don’t get a particular job. If you prepare a file or portfolio of your strengths, skills, and experience you will have it for the next interview. No one likes to think about building a career portfolio, needing a career plan or having another interview. We want to have the perfect interview, get it over with, and not have to think about it for years. But all of the preparation for an interview can be an opportunity to find something positive about every job and training opportunity you have had. Each experience is building toward success. With each interaction, you will have a better idea of what you want or don’t want. It’s all a matter of finding a fit. You might just find a fit where you least expect it.

Developing job search planning and interviewing skills are a way to build excellent life skills such as problem-solving and decision-making. As you plan your search, look for something you are prepared for and experienced in, but also watch for things you want whether they are advertised or not. Talk to friends, family, and colleagues about what you want to do rather than just a job title. Be open to possibilities. Look ahead at where your path might lead you. Don’t wait for a leaf to fall in front of you. Go off of your path and pick one up. You might be surprised at what you find.

30 minutes walking

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge

A long gravel road, dry grass, and bright sun in my eyes. We took a guided tour through the Stone Lakes National Wildlife Refuge. I looked out across the field and didn't see anything that looked wild or living. Then the guide showed us the swallow boxes where the birds gather to nest. He told us about the Central Valley Miwok who used the natural resources on the preserve to make baskets, boats etc. They made baskets from the long flat grasses that grow near the water (you can see the grass from the platform.) At first I saw nothing, yet the field was full of wildlife and natural resources. Across the wetlands were egrets, geese, and there were signs that otters had been on the trail. The shaded viewing platform was the perfect place to feel the breeze and hear the singing birds.

There were Tree Swallow nesting boxes along the road. The swallows are very social song birds.  They often travel in large flocks and then settle into pairs for nesting. The boxes aren't far apart and make up a community of birds. Like their human neighbors, many of the bird species travel and gather in groups. The birds made me think of our family gathering this weekend where we seemed to flock together from various parts of the state and the country. With all of the laughing we may have sounded more like cackling birds than song birds, but I also heard the plucking of a guitar, the splashing of a fountain, and other music. Then we all scattered back to our homes to gather again whenever we can.

60+ minutes walking (about a 2 hr guided tour with stops for photos)

Saturday, October 9, 2010


A flock of birds, a gaggle of geese, or families walking together. The outdoors is a favorite place to socialize for animals and humans. I started the day with a nice walk with a cousin from out of state and ended the day with a family celebration. Sitting outside on a cool fall evening, the conversations get animated and we wonder if our little group is getting too loud. We are social beings. We've learned ways to live in groups, support each other, and just have fun. I wonder if the animals ever laugh as loud as we do. Do they have family gatherings that span four or more generations? I suspect that in their own way many animals live in groups while protecting and supporting each other. They just don't have to shop, plan, and adorn themselves like we do.

20 minutes walking

Friday, October 8, 2010


My family is an important part of my network. My mother and sister write comments about my walking blog, my oldest daughter edits, my youngest daughter designed my logo, and my husband does the photography. Beyond that I have a wealth of support from friends and colleagues.

I’ve participated in speed networking groups, networking meetings, and association conferences. They are all great experience, but the best networking is close to home. People who know me through community work, writing, mentoring and coffee shop meetings as well as friends and family are my closest network. They are the ones who give me support for my work, referrals for my business, act as references, and present job opportunities.

Saying thank you to friends and colleagues, helping friends and colleagues formally or informally and asking for advice and feedback are the best methods of networking.

45 minutes walking

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Just Walking

Sometimes I just walk to walk. Nothing out of the ordinary. No great inspirations, just fresh air, and feet to the ground. It was a beautiful day to be outside just for the sake of being out. In case you hadn't noticed, I love to walk when it's fair weather. I'm ready to dash out the door on a cool or even cold morning just to be outside moving my body in the fresh air. Today was one of those days. What more can I say. I'm thankful for fall.

30 minutes walking

Wednesday, October 6, 2010


The sound of lawn mowers, trimmers, and blowers hit my ears as I walk through the neighborhood. People are out there doing work that needs to be done. I’m sure there are people who love to get out and mow the lawn. In fact, it can be fun and satisfying at times. But I don’t think that most people feel like they can’t wait to get home and mow the lawn every time it needs to be mowed. Seeing a job well done, or pleasing someone who wanted it done, can bring a sense of satisfaction, and sometimes even pleasure, but there are many times there is just something else we’d rather be doing.

Theorists such as Abraham Maslow (Self-Actualization), Joseph Campbell (Bliss), and Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi (Flow), tell us we can find happiness through living in our optimal experience where we can get lost in the joy of what we are doing. Marcus Buckingham tells us to spend most of our time in activities that use our strengths. I love to follow my bliss, use my strengths, and seek out optimal experiences, but sometimes the toilet needs to be cleaned or the lawn needs to be mowed whether the tasks bring joy or just the satisfaction of getting a job done that needed doing.

When I get to the park I see birds and geese doing their work. For the most part there’s little complaining. They know the order of things. As human beings, once we get beyond satisfying our basic needs, we can move on to finding meaningful experiences. For those of us who have the opportunity to find work that uses our strengths, we are blessed. If you find that you need to earn a living doing work that needs to be done, seek out opportunities to find a little bliss. Take a walk, talk to a friend, laugh with a baby, or challenge yourself physically. Everyone needs a little time for relaxation and enjoyment.

20 minutes walking

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Using My Senses

I picked up my half sandwich wrapped in paper and walked outside. I’d been thinking about how nice it would be to eat my lunch on a bench at the park. Sandwich in hand I stepped outside to see the cloud-laden sky. My mind was on my lunch as raindrops tapped the sidewalk. About that time the smell of rain hit my nostrils. I had my sights set on my destination, and I was ignoring all of my other senses.

In an interview with Wired Magazine, Psychologist Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi explains the importance of using all of the senses to increase creativity. Walking outdoors increases brain activity, but it also helps get you in touch with your senses.

“I found that if a painter relates to objects only through vision, his work is much less original than a painter who walks up to the object, smells it, throws it in the air, and manipulates it. The variety of sensory inputs allows you to create a visual image that has all kinds of dimensions bubbling up inside it.”
I was amazed that I could walk two blocks today before I even noticed that it was about to rain. I was seeing, but I was not using my other senses. I ate my sandwich at home, and then went out in the evening. This time I immediately noticed the sky, felt the breeze on my cheeks, and felt my nostrils flare. I want to fully capture the many dimensions of my life and experience the moment that I am in.

50 minutes walking

Monday, October 4, 2010

Too Much or Too Little

Leaves fall, scatter and feed the soil. Algae grows on the lake in the hot summer sun. Fish and fowl nibble the excess. When there is too much, nature seems to clean up after itself sometimes seemingly indiscriminately. There may be too little for a time until things balance out again.

As I clean up and clean out, I am trying to find balance. Do I have too little space or too much stuff? It feels like a little of both. I like my stuff! I like to have lots of books around me, pictures, and things that remind me of vacations and places I’ve visited. I also like dishes. I’m not sure why except that they are colorful and add interest to meals. So how much is too much?

As they say in the yard sale world, one person’s junk is another person’s treasure. But what if my treasure is your junk, and we live in the same household? I see a stack of books I’m still planning to read after 10 years (I’m getting to them gradually,) photographs I need to organize and old paintings that need repair. These treasures look like too much stuff to my husband while I find value in them. Cables, keys, and keyboards sit waiting for use. I keep asking if we need them. They look like junk to me, but they still have possible uses to someone else.

The dried up leaves simply fall from the trees when they have done their work for the season. The geese eat the bugs and food left on the grass. They don’t seem to put much thought into it. When a storm hits, everything blows around and then reorganizes itself. Whenever I see the leaves start to fall, I think about what I need to clean out. After a walk in the fall, I go home and look around to see what needs to be recycled or taken out. I don’t want to feel like a tree with no leaves, but I want to take out the brown dried up leaves and make room for the fresh air to flow through.

40 minutes walking

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Leaves Crunching

Leaves crunching
Made me laugh
Feet smashing
Childish play

End of summer
Falling leaves
Kick aside
Walk. around

Trees laden
Not for long
Breezes bringing
Signs of fall

Crunch some leaves, laugh, have a fun fall day! Don’t have leaves? Look around. What can you find to make you laugh?

40 minutes walking

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Embracing My Goals

Today I decided I would embrace my goals rather than procrastinating. I decided to start each day with at least a short walk and not put it off until the end of the day. I sometimes wait until evening, my favorite time to walk. But other things can come up which may make it difficult to get out before dark.

I can see signs of fall and winter coming. It will get dark earlier, and there may be storms later in the day. I need to decide if this goal is important to me, embrace my goal, and enjoy it early. By putting off something that I decided was important to me, I leave it hanging over my head all day. Rather than something I have to do, I will consider it a pleasure to get out every morning.

Goals should enhance my life, rather than being a burden. If my goals don’t motivate me to take action on things that are important to me, then I need to rethink my goals.

20 minutes walking

Friday, October 1, 2010

Last Year's Seeds

This year we planted seeds that were left over from our planting last year. Some of the plants were hardy enough to produce, but many of the vegetables were not as robust this year. I realized that lately I have been planting old seeds in my work. In organizing the material I have written over the last five years, I have been capturing work from the past. That is fine, but it is getting dry and lacking flavor. In looking through my writing, I realized that through practice and experience, I have grown and blossomed over the last few years.

After watering the vegetables, and seeing how old seeds often give root to limp vegetables, I can see that holding onto last year’s writing, thoughts, and ideas without letting them grow is creating pithy results.

Yesterday I just started writing to see how it would grow and develop. I liked it! It was fresh and fun. Then I added some of the old material that has been tested successfully. Whether in writing, business, or relationships, it’s healthy to bring in new growth and test the current. Using past experience we often feel like we know what works and what doesn’t. Let’s stick with what is safe. What we know. I’ve found that I can take what I know from the past and grow out of that into something fresh and unique.

Walking outdoors reminds me that things change. The sky may have dark clouds in the morning and warm sunshine a few minutes later. I hang pictures on my wall to capture moments in time, I buy solid furniture that stays in one place, but when I go outdoors I see the evolution (patterns of movement) of space, sound, color, and air flow.

30 minutes walking